Karrie Webb battled through horrendous conditions on Saturday at Dundonald Links in round three of the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open, shooting a superb 2 under par round of 70 to share the lead with Korean Sei Young Kim at six-under-par.
The field played throughout the day in blinding rain and 60kph winds, and it was Webb and Kim who held their own shooting rounds of 70 and 69 respectively, and will head into the final round with a two-stroke lead over halfway leader Cristie Kerr, with Spanish star Carlota Ciganda and former ANA Inspiration winner Sun Young Yoo two strokes further back.
The Queenslander started the day strongly making back to back birdies on the second and third holes to regain the lead she had held after her opening round of 65. The 42-year-old then extended her advantage with a birdie at the seventh and held a one stroke lead after an outward nine of 33.
The LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer, now in her 23rd season as a professional, made two bogeys and some superb fighting up and downs on the back nine, before she and Kim both birdied the 17th hole as torrential rain fell.
On the par-5 18th, Kim hit a magnificent second shot to set up an eagle putt from 3 metres, but with the wind gusting she missed the putt to take the outright lead and finished the day tied with Webb at the top of the leaderboard.
Webb was pleased with the way she battled in the conditions. “I felt very comfortable out there early on and got off to a good start, so that settled any nerves. I really just hung in there on the back nine. I actually got a couple of good breaks when it was raining. I made some good up and downs as well.”
Speaking after her round, the 24-year-old world number 11 from Seoul seemed thrilled. Kim said: “I’ve never played before in this weather. It was a really great experience. It’s rare to play with veteran players, like Cristie Kerr and Karrie Webb: they are really great players. It was really tough to focus on each shot, but I kept focused for a few seconds.”
Kerr, who signed for a 73, gave up on using an umbrella in the end, as she was completely soaked. She said after her round: “I played a lot better than the score. I had two three-putts on the back nine, which were kind of uncharacteristic. I’ve just got to do better.”
With Ciganda only four shots from the lead, there is now the possibility of a Spanish Scottish Open double after Rafa Cabrera Bello’s win in the men’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open a fortnight ago.
Ciganda said: “I’ve been playing good the last week, so I’m trying to stay patient and stick to my plan. I’m having a good time out there with my caddie, Terry (MacNamara). I’m learning a lot and he’s teaching me so many things. I still have lots to learn, but I’m having fun and I’ll try my best tomorrow.”
MacNamara was formally Annika Sorenstam’s long term caddy and without a doubt is the talented Spaniard’s 15th club these days especially in tough conditions.
The final round is set to be another classic test of links golf, with sunny skies expected in the morning, followed by cloudier skies and slightly less wind than Saturday.
Of the leading three players, all have extremely impressive records. Karrie Webb has held at least a share of the 54-hole lead 37 times in her career, converting 26 into victories for a 70.3% record.
Of Webb’s 41 victories on the LPGA Tour, she’s held the 54-hole lead 26 times, including her first win on Tour at the 1995 Weetabix Women’s British Open. Webb was a non-LPGA member back then and that was before the event was granted major status.
With a victory on Sunday, Webb would pass Babe Zaharias in all-time wins and move into a tie for ninth all-time with Sandra Haynie at 42.
Kerr is currently 27th on the list with 19 victories and with a win on Sunday she would match Laura Davies’ 20 win total.
Sei Young Kim has held the 54-lead three times winning the last two, at the 2015 LOTTE Championship and the 2015 Blue Bay LPGA.
Webb has gone 71 events since her last win on the LPGA Tour at the 2014 Founders Cup while Kim won earlier this year at the Lorena Ochoa Matchplay.
Of the other Australians to make it through to the weekend, Minjee Lee is at +1 tied for 9th place, Su Oh is at +8 tied for 40th place, while Sarah Jane Smith is at +10 tied and tied for 53rd place.
The final group of Webb (41), Kim (6) and Cristie Kerr (19) have combined for 66 LPGA career wins in total.
The leaders will tee off at 12:26pm local time (9:26pm AEST) and you can keep up with the scores at lpgascoring.com
Watch all the action live on FoxSports Australia from midnight AEST.
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